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Apple: Topic Page
Any of numerous varieties of a small deciduous tree with pink or white flowers and edible fruit.
Apricot: Topic Page
A sweet-sour fruit, the apricot (Prunus armeniaca) was long viewed as a kind of plum - and one that came from Armenia. In truth, it is a stone fruit (a drupe) of the same family as the peach, plum, almond, nectarine, and cherry and apparently originated (despite its scientific name) in China, where it has been cultivated for some 5,000 years.
Avocado: Topic Page
An evergreen tree growing to 18 m/60 ft (Persea americana), covered with aromatic oil glands, thought to be native to Central America.
Banana: Topic Page
Name for several species of the genus Musa and for the fruits these produce. The banana plant—one of the largest herbaceous plants—is said to be native to tropical Asia, but is now cultivated throughout the tropics.
Blueberries: Topic Page
Blueberries come from any of a number of shrubs of the genus Vaccinium that grow wild over much of the globe and can be found in the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to the jungles of South America.
Bramble: Topic Page
This complex genus of the family Rosaceae (rose family), with representatives in many parts of the world, includes the blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, and dewberries.
Cherry: Topic Page
The small, round red to black fruits are botanically designated drupes, or stone fruits, as are those of the closely related peach, apricot, and plum. The cherry is one of the most commonly grown home-orchard fruits. About 600 varieties are cultivated, practically all derived from two species—P. avium (sweet cherries) and P. cerasus (sour cherries).
Citrus: Topic Page
A member of a group of plants bearing distinctive juicy, acid-tasting fruits of great economic importance.
Coconut: Topic Page
Fruit of the coco palm (Cocos nucifera), a tree widely distributed through tropical regions. The seed is peculiarly adapted to dispersal by water because the large pod holding the nut is buoyant and impervious to moisture.
Cranberries: Topic Page
Of the same genus as the blueberry, the cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a North American shrub that is so named because its flower stamens resemble a beak - hence “crane berry,” a name (which subsequently became “cranberry”) assigned to it by the early European settlers in New England.
Fig: Topic Page
This large genus contains some 800 species of widely varied tropical vines (some of which are epiphytic); shrubs; and trees, including the banyan, the peepul, or bo tree, and the India-rubber tree.
Gourd: Topic Page
Common name for some members of the Cucurbitaceae, a family of plants whose range includes all tropical and subtropical areas and extends into the temperate zones.
Grape: Topic Page
Common name for the Vitaceae, a family of mostly climbing shrubs, widespread in tropical and subtropical regions and extending into the temperate zones.
From The Columbia Encyclopedia pomelo pŏm'əlō, or pummelo pum'məlō, citrus fruit (Citrus paradisi) of the family Rutaceae (orange family). The grapefruit is so named because it grows in grapelike bunches.
Guava: Topic Page
Small evergreen tree or shrub of the genus Psidium of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family), native to tropical America and grown elsewhere for its ornamental flowers and edible fruit.
Kiwi Fruit: Topic Page
The kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) was a small, hard berry growing wild in China at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Lemon: Topic Page
One of the citrus fruits, from a tree (Citrus limon) of the family Rutaceae (orange family), probably native to India.
Limes: Topic Page
Like most of the other members of the citrus family, the lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) is native to Southeast Asia. It was first cultivated in China and India, then introduced in southern Europe (probably during the Crusades), and carried much later by the Spaniards to the West Indies.
Mango: Topic Page
The mango tree (Mangifera indica) is an Asian evergreen that can attain a height of 100 feet or more.
Melons: Topic Page
An annual trailing vine, Cucumis melo, native to tropical Africa but widely cultivated for its edible fruits.
Mulberry: Topic Page
Common name for the Moraceae, a family of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, often climbing, mostly of pantropical distribution, and characterized by milky sap.
Olive: Topic Page
Olive, common name for the Oleaceae, a family of trees and shrubs (including climbing forms) of warm temperate climates and of the Old World tropics, especially Asia and the East Indies.
Oranges: Topic Page
One way to categorize this fruit of the genus Citrus is to distinguish bitter oranges (C. aurantium) from sweet oranges (C. sinensis).
Papaya: Topic Page
A large pear- or melon-shaped fruit to 20 cm long, from the tree Carica papaya which grows in most tropical and sub-tropical regions and is second only in importance to the banana amongst tropical fruit.
Peach: Topic Page
Apparently a native of China despite its scientific name, Prunus persica, the peach spread to the Middle East and then to Greece.
Pear: Topic Page
Name for a fruit tree of the genus Pyrus of the family Rosaceae (rose family) and for its fruit, a pome.
Persimmon: Topic Page
Although there are persimmon trees that are native to North America, the orange-red persimmon (Diospyros kaki) that North Americans usually consume originated in Asia.
Pineapple: Topic Page
A native of the New World, the pineapple (Ananas comosus) is now cultivated in frostfree areas around the world. The Tupi-Guarani Indians of South America have been credited with its domestication, although this is in some dispute.
Plum: Topic Page
A pitted fruit, or drupe, and related to peaches and apricots, the plum is the most widely distributed of all the stone fruits, growing on every continent save Antarctica.
Pumpkin: Topic Page
Known in Old English as “pumpions” or “pompions,” pumpkins (or calabazas) make up several species of the genus Cucurbita, and considerable confusion exists about the differences between them and winter squashes.
Raspberries: Topic Page
A number of shrublike, prickly plants of the genus Rubus have fruits that we call raspberries.
Strawberries: Topic Page
The garden strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) is probably the best known of the berries and certainly the most versatile.
Watermelon: Topic Page
A native of Africa, this ground-hugging vine (Citrullus lanatus = C. vulgaris), cultivated for its melons, managed early on to get around the globe with a great deal of agility.
Artichoke: Topic Page
Although at least three vegetables are called artichokes, the globe or French artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has little relationship to either the Jerusalem artichoke or the Chinese artichoke.
Asparagus: Topic Page
A member of the lily family (which includes leeks, garlic, onions, and other relatives of the grasses), this perennial (Asparagus officinalis) was doubtless an important gathered food for our Stone Age ancestors.
Beets: Topic Page
All of today's beets are descended from a wild forebear whose green tops doubtless nourished our own prehistoric forebears. Indeed, the first cultivated beets were apparently tended only for their leaves (eaten like spinach), and it was not until the early Christian era that their roots became appreciated.
Bell Pepper: Topic Page
The fruit of an annual bush Capsicum annuum Grossum Group which is green when unripe and passes through yellow to red as it becomes riper.
This member of the cabbage family is an East Asian native and a mainstay in the diets of the region. But bok choy (Brassica rapa) is also available in the markets of Europe and North America.
Broccoli: Topic Page
A member of the mustard family, and doubtless a descendant of the wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea), broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) began as a wild-growing native of the Mediterranean region.
Cabbage: Topic Page
Sources indicate that the cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is an ancient vegetable of the European Old World, but cabbages in China were mentioned by Confucius (d. 497 B.C.), which suggests that the plant traveled quite widely in the distant past.
Cauliflower: Topic Page
The cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis), another - and many would say the most elegant - member of the sprawling cabbage family, is a direct descendant of the original wild cabbage and a close relative of broccoli.
Celery: Topic Page
A member of the parsley family, and native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, wild celery (Apium graveolens) was one of the first vegetables to appear in recorded history.
Collards: Topic Page
Called couve in Brazil and often regarded as a form of kale (which they are, differing mostly in the smoothness of their leaves), collards (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) constitute one of the oldest members of the cabbage family and probably originated in the Mediterranean region.
Corn: Topic Page
The name corn is given to the leading cereal crop of any major region. In England corn means wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, oats. The grain called corn in the United States is Indian corn or maize.
Cucumbers: Topic Page
A native of southwestern Asia, the cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a member of the squash family and has been cultivated since prehistoric times for its fruit.
Eggplant: Topic Page
The size and color of the eggplant (Solanum melongena) range from the white, eggshaped types of India (from whence the name derives) to a large, green or white variety of melon size, although the most common (in North America) remains the familiar dark purple, ovoid form sometimes called the “Japanese eggplant.”
Kale: Topic Page
A variety of cabbage with ruffled, crinkled leaves that form no head, kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is an ancient vegetable.
Lettuce: Topic Page
The various lettuces are plants of the genus Lactuca and - along with endive and dandelions - members of the daisy family.
Mushroom: Topic Page
Mushroom, type of basidium fungus characterized by spore-bearing gills on the underside of the umbrella- or cone-shaped cap.
Okra: Topic Page
A member of the mallow family, and called “gumbo” and “lady-fingers” along with a host of other common names, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus = Hibiscus esculentus) is often thought of as a vegetable but is actually a fruit.
Pea: Topic Page
Hardy, annual, climbing leguminous plant (Pisum sativum) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), grown for food by humans at least since the early Bronze Age; no longer known in the wild form. It is cultivated everywhere in home gardens and on a large scale commercially for freezing or canning.
Pepper: Topic Page
Any of various tropical shrubs cultivated for their large red, green or yellow edible fruits, eg chilli pepper.
Spinach: Topic Page
A green leafy vegetable, spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a native of southwestern Asia.
Tomato: Topic Page
Plant of the family Solanaceae, related to the potato and eggplant. Although cultivated in Mexico and Peru for centuries before the European conquest, the tomato is one of the newest plants to be used on a large scale for human food.
Root Crops and Squashes
Carrot: Topic Page
A biennial plant with divided leaves, small white, pink, or yellow flowers borne in dense flat-topped clusters, and an edible orange root.
Cassava: Topic Page
Name for many species of the genus Manihot of the family Euphorbiaceae (spurge family). The roots, which resemble sweet potatoes and are eaten in much the same way, yield cassava starch, a staple food in the tropics.
Onion: Topic Page
The edible bulb of this plant, which consists of white fleshy scales and a pungent oil, surrounded by a brown papery outer layer, and is eaten raw, cooked or pickled.
Potato: Topic Page
Common name for a perennial plant (Solanum tuberosum) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family) and for its swollen underground stem, a tuber, which is one of the most widely used vegetables in Western temperate climates.
Radishes: Topic Page
Technically referring to any of a number of plants belonging to the genus Raphanus and the mustard family, the term “radish” is usually taken to mean the thickened edible ends of R. sativus, which are used in salads and eaten as snacks and appetizers.
Rutabega: Topic Page
Swedish turnip (Brassica napus) in the mustard family. A hardy biennial, the rutabaga is a cool-season plant cultivated for its fleshy roots and tender leaves.
Shallots: Topic Page
Like its cousin, the onion, the shallot originated in Western or Central Asia.
Sweet Potatoes: Topic Page
Sweet potato is the seventh most important food crop in the world, after maize, rice, wheat, potato, cassava, and barley.
Turnip: Topic Page
Hardy biennial plant in the mustard family, cultivated for its fleshy roots and tender leaves.
Taro: Topic Page
Herbaceous plant (Colocasia esculenta) of the arum family, probably native to Southeast Asia and taken to the Pacific islands.
Yam: Topic Page
Any of several species of herbaceous vines that grow in warm and tropical regions; also the large, tuberous roots of several tropical species, which are edible.
Zucchini: Topic Page
An American summer squash, the zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) bears an Italian name that is the diminutive of zucca, meaning “gourd.”